• Wagner says he'd sue painkiller makers over addiction costs

    By: MARC LEVY, Associated Press

    Updated:
    YORK, Pa. (AP) - Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Wagner said Wednesday that his administration would sue the makers of prescription painkillers to recoup Pennsylvania's cost of dealing with opioid-related addiction.

    Wagner made the announcement as part of a plan to attack what he says is a worsening problem.

    Last year, Pennsylvania's attorney general, Josh Shapiro, and 40 other state attorneys general said they had served subpoenas requesting information from companies that make prescription painkillers and demanded information from three distributors.

    The campaign of Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, said it supports Shapiro's efforts, but Wagner said being part of such a coalition is like being a member of a "card club."

    "It's time for action here," Wagner said.

    Wagner also said he would assemble a "summit" of people involved in combating the epidemic, seek to increase penalties for drug dealers and improve drug education in schools.

    While Wagner also vowed to pour more state and federal money into the fight against opioid addiction, Wolf's campaign warned that Wagner is a danger to curtailing the state's Medicaid program, which addiction-prevention advocates credit with helping secure treatment for tens of thousands more people.

    A federal judge in Cleveland is handling more than 1,000 lawsuits against the industry , filed mostly by local governments and Native American tribes. Hundreds of other local governments are suing in state courts across the country, while other state governments have sued in state court.

    Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that drug overdose deaths in Pennsylvania rose 3 percent to 5,361 in the 12 months ending in February 2018, a slower rate than the national increase of 5.1 percent.

    Wolf's administration has marshaled tens of millions of dollars annually to expand access to treatment, while tightening painkiller-prescribing guidelines, limiting emergency rooms prescriptions, expanding use of the state's prescription drug monitoring database, educating doctors about the dangers of prescribing opioids and making an overdose antidote widely available.

    The election is Nov. 6.

    Next Up: